AN 11-year-old boy was robbed at knifepoint by two youths armed with a fearsome machete as he walked home from Birkenhead Park, a court heard today.

The schoolboy was going home on December 9 last year after his two friends had their rucksacks stolen by the duo as they played football in the park.

His distraught friends, one of whom had his mobile phone in his missing bag, went to their nearby school for help and the boy started walking off alone.

But he was then approached by the two robbers, who had earlier denied being responsible when asked by the youngsters, and the younger attacker, aged 16, grabbed him in a headlock, said Alice Dobbie, prosecuting.

The youth, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, asked for his mobile phone but the boy said he did not have one and only had the torch he was using.

The older robber, Simon Fitzgerald, aged 22, asked if he was sure and let slip sight of a large machete, which he had up his sleeve.

"He was terrified and said 'please don't kill me' and they left," said Miss Dobbie.

When he got home, he told his mum who called the police; he then returned to the park with officers and pointed them out and they were arrested.

Fitzgerald had the torch and the knife was recovered nearby.

Interviewed, they both made admissions and Fitzgerald admitted they regularly both carried knives.

Fitzgerald, of Alexandra Road, Birkenhead, and his co-accused, also from Birkenhead, both pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to theft and robbery.

Judge David Aubrey, QC, described the robbery as "cowardly. You were both bullies armed with a lethal knife."

Fitzpatrick told a probation officer it was the "worst mistake of my life".

"You must pay for that mistake", said Judge Aubrey sentencing him to two years' imprisonment.

He imposed an 18-month detention and training order on the 16-year-old. He said they both came from caring homes and he hoped after their sentences they would go on to lead industrious lives.

John Weate, defending, said that the 16-year-old was a cannabis user but while on remand in a secure children's home he has been making good progress and is remorseful.

Fitzgerald's lawyer, Chris Williams, said that he was also remorseful. He too was a cannabis user and his usage had increased leading to debts.

After being expelled from school for smoking the drug he went on to work in local factories.